Team TargetCancer Foundation Profile: Nicole Garceau

Mar 25, 2016 | News, Events, Patient Stories

By Matt Carli

You can support Nicole’s 2016 Boston Marathon fundraising by making a donation, or by attending an upcoming event!

People can be incredibly brave, kind, and generous when life demands it of them. Nicole Garceau is a perfect example of this. Inspired by family and friends diagnosed with cancer, she has overcome her own personal obstacles in order to run the historic Boston Marathon for TargetCancer Foundation in 2015 and 2016.

Cancer has had a significant impact on Nicole’s family. Two aunts and one uncle have been diagnosed with breast cancer, her sister with thyroid cancer, and a young cousin with a rare disease called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. Faced with such a daunting situation, Nicole’s family saw what they had to do.

“Rather than cave and give into these obstacles, we realized WE had to be supportive and fight together to overcome these hurdles. My aunts, my sister, my uncle and my 11 year old cousin are hardcore fighters and thankfully survivors.”

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Photo credit: Patrick Evan Photography

Nicole had also witnessed TargetCancer Foundation founder Paul Poth’s struggle with a rare cancer. Diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile duct that doctors informed him had no cure, Paul took it upon himself to start a nonprofit dedicated to funding research for rare cancers. Watching his efforts inspired Nicole: “He amazed me. Being that sick and being able to start a foundation and just run with it was amazing.” When that organization, TargetCancer Foundation, asked for volunteers for their first Boston Marathon team, Nicole jumped on the opportunity. After seeing Paul’s fight, “there’s no foundation I’d rather run for.”

The decision to run the Boston Marathon was a controversial one. Nicole suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder that limits the amount of food she can eat to fuel her runs. For this reason, doctors told her that there was no way she could run distance, let alone complete a marathon. Instead of letting this bring her down, she made it her mission to prove them wrong.

“The doctors’ advice lit a spark in me and made me run harder and longer. My motto became ‘TELL ME I CAN’T AND I WILL!’”

Her determination paid off, and in 2015 Nicole and another teammate ran the Boston Marathon for TargetCancer, earning a total of over $36,000. Despite the special challenge running a marathon poses someone with her condition, Nicole loved it.

“To run Boston is the most amazing experience. When you feel like you can’t go any further, you look to the left and to the right and there’s a runner pushing a wheelchair, there’s a runner with no legs running, or there’s a blind runner putting all their trust into a guide for 26.2 miles, and all of a sudden, you know you can keep going. I get goosebumps whenever I think about it.”


Photo credit: Patrick Evan Photography

Founded in 2009, TargetCancer Foundation funds research into rare cancers like cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer. These cancers are not only rare, but also suffer from a lack of funding and basic research tools, and as a result have very poor rates of survival. By addressing these overlooked diseases TargetCancer Foundation seeks to have the maximum impact on the lives of those fighting rare cancers, and ultimately, all cancers.

Since being founded, TargetCancer Foundation has provided over $830,000 in rare cancer research grants, leading to new clinical trials in cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer, and multiple publications in major scientific journals. The proceeds of Nicole’s run will go directly to furthering this important work.